The city of Jonesboro received a $2.5 million grant for rail storage expansion that will provide needed space for industrial park manufacturers, but it also mean jobs growth, Mayor Harold Perrin said Monday (Oct. 5).
The expansion will relieve traffic congestion that builds when railcars get backed up, blocking roadways along the rail route in the park. A timetable for the work to be completed has not been released.
The grants – a $509,000 investment by the Delta Regional Authority and $2 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration – will be used to build four dead-end tracks that will create space to store 120 additional rail cars. It is a part of the city’s long-term master rail plan. The grants will be of immediate benefit to businesses needing more rail space to expand operations, as well as future Industrial Park tenants, Perrin added.
“It’s a great day in Jonesboro, because this is extremely important to existing industry and future development that will locate here,” Perrin said. “These are unusually generous grants, and we have a lot of people to thank.”
The EDA grant was announced Monday afternoon at Rotary Park in Centennial Plaza in downtown Jonesboro. It comes from the EDA regional division of Austin, Texas, and Perrin thanked U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, for writing support letters that he considered critical to the grant’s approval.
He also said the $2 million grant would not have been possible with DRA’s contribution. “It was essentially the city’s match,” Perrin said.
DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell said his agency’s donation “will strengthen economic success in the Arkansas Delta by improving vital infrastructure and creating opportunities to foster workforce development.”
Perrin noted that the added rail space will keep cars from stacking onto MLK Jr. Drive, a problem that motorists have endured for years.
“We have been developing a master rail plan, and this is an important piece of it,” Perrin said. “Like most everything we have done during my administration, it has required partnerships. That includes Mark Young at the Chamber of Commerce, who helped set up meetings with the plant managers to learn their needs; our City Council, which approved the plan in the first place; and Grants Director Regina Burkett, who wrote the grant.”